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Italian PM under attack as she meets families of migrant shipwreck victims

Max Civili
Press TV, Rome

On Thursday, a delegation of survivors and victims' families from last month's migrant shipwreck at Cutro in southern Italy, met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

On February 26, over 80 people died after a rickety boat with about 200 migrants on board broke up in rough seas. As many as 33 of the victims were minors. At least 16 people are still missing and feared dead. The shipwreck was one of the worst migration disasters in recent European history.

No journalists were admitted at Thursday's meeting between Meloni and some of the relatives of the victims and survivors of the Cutro tragedy.

In the past weeks, Italy has seen an increase in attempts to cross the Central Mediterranean. In a new shipwreck that took place about 100 miles off the Libyan coast, between March 11 and 12, at least 30 migrants went missing and are thought to have died. The rescue operation was partially coordinated by the Italian Coast Guard.

During a Q&A session in the Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday, Meloni and her government were accused of failing to offer timely assistance to smugglers’ boats in distress and, in more general terms, of not doing enough to try and save people attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea.

Since day one of its mandates, the Giorgia Meloni government has pledged to press ahead with an agenda aimed at stopping what it calls illegal migration. In January, the official introduced a new code of conduct for humanitarian ships, making it much harder for NGO-run vessels to rescue migrants lost at sea. Lately Rome has even tried to pass the buck onto others for the current Mediterranean migrant crisis.

Earlier this week the Italian government said the Russian private military company Wagner was behind the recent exponential surge in migrant boats from African coasts. The number of migrants reaching Italy's shores so far this year exceeds 20,000.

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